“Go to the Ant”
“GO TO the ant, you lazy one,” wrote King Solomon, “see its ways and become wise.” What can a lazy person—or any person for that matter—learn from an ant? Solomon continued: “Although it has no commander, officer or ruler, it prepares its food even in the summer; it has gathered its food supplies even in the harvest.”—Proverbs 6:6-8.
The wise king was apparently referring to the harvester ant. In Israel, as in many other places, it is a common sight to see a harvester ant scurrying about, carrying a seed nearly as large as itself. (See top left.) It takes the gathered food supplies to the underground storage.
Being underground, the “granary” can become quite damp during the rainy season, and the seeds will germinate or become moldy if left untended. So the ants have extra work to do. As soon as the sun comes out, the worker ants take the seeds to the surface for them to dry out in the open air. (See above.) And before the sun sets, the ants have to carry all the seeds back in. Some ants are smart enough to bite off the growing tip of the seeds as soon as they are collected or when they start to germinate.
The ants’ work does not end with preparing the food. They also have the chore of caring for the young. Eggs must be put in compact bundles. Larvae from the hatched eggs must be fed. Pupae must be tended. Some ants even provide air-conditioning service. When it gets hot during the day, they carry the pupae deeper down in their nest. When the coolness of evening approaches, they bring the pupae back up. A lot of work, isn’t it?
As the colony grows, new rooms must be built. The worker ants use their jaws to dig and carry the soil out. They usually do this after a rain when the soil is soft. They also mold the soil into “bricks” for their civil-engineering projects—building the walls and ceilings of their underground tunnels and chambers.
All of this the ants do with “no commander, officer or ruler.” What about the queen? She gives no command. She only lays eggs and is queen in the sense that she is the mother of the colony. (See top.) Even with no supervisor to check on them or foreman to drive them, the ants keep tirelessly at their work. One ant was seen working from six in the morning till ten at night!
Can you learn a lesson from observing the ant? Do you work hard and strive to improve in your work whether you are being monitored or not? (Proverbs 22:29) You will be rewarded in the long run even if your employer does not take note of it. You can enjoy a clean conscience and personal satisfaction. As Solomon observed: “Sweet is the sleep of the one serving, regardless of whether it is little or much that he eats.”—Ecclesiastes 5:12.
That is not all that we can learn from the ant. Ants work hard by instinct. In fact, some ants are observed blindly following the trail that others left behind. They end up running in a circle, round and round, until they fall and die.
Do you sometimes feel that you are running in a circle, always busy and tired but never getting anywhere? If so, it is time to examine the purpose of your hard work and assess the true value of your goals. Remember King Solomon’s wise counsel: “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”—Ecclesiastes 12:13.